The Daily Signal

After Delta Ends Fare Discount for NRA Members, Airline’s Tax Break in Georgia in Jeopardy

The Georgia state Senate had been considering legislation “that would benefit Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based company severed ties with the National Rifle Association,” according to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Photo: Bayne Stanley/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

Some lawmakers in the Georgia Senate are working to block a bill that exempts jet fuel from the state’s sales tax for Delta Air Lines’ because the airline has canceled its discounted fares for National Rifle Association members under its group travel program.

The Georgia state Senate had been considering legislation “that would benefit Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based company severed ties with the National Rifle Association,” according to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Delta ended its discounted rates for the NRA Saturday following the aftermath of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, Feb. 14.

“Delta informed the National Rifle Association Saturday that the airline will end its contract for discounted fares for travel to the association’s 2018 annual meeting,” Delta said in a statement. “The company requested that the NRA remove Delta’s information from its meeting website.”

“Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings. Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment,” the airline added.

The legislation, which passed the Georgia House on Thursday, would “strike down a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel, of which Delta would be the primary beneficiary,” The Washington Post reported.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tweeted Monday his support for the NRA.

“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with NRA,” Cagle tweeted. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”

Delta is among a number of companies who have severed ties with the NRA, including United Airlines, MetLife, and First National Bank of Omaha.

The NRA is pushing back against these boycotts, saying they “punish” American citizens.

“Some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice,” the NRA said in a statement.  “In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.”

Robert Kuykendall, director of communications at 2ndVote, a conservative information organization, told The Daily Signal in an email that he is wary of the motive behind Delta’s decision, as Delta in 2016 “joined a business coalition known as Georgia Prospers to fight against Georgia’s Free Exercise Protection Act, or HB 757, that would have strengthened religious liberty protections for pastors, churches, and business owners.”

“Just as in 2016, it seems Delta is choosing political expediency over ‘respect for customers and employees on both sides,’” Kuykendall said. “By caving to extremists and discontinuing their partnerships with the NRA, Delta and the rest of these corporations have essentially aligned their brands with the left’s misinformation campaign to demonize guns and gun owners.”

Adam Michel, a tax policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, says lawmakers should not pick favorites when it comes to delivering tax breaks.

“State sales taxes should have one low rate on all final consumption without exemptions, carve outs, or preferential rates,” Michel told The Daily Signal in an email. “Lawmakers should avoid privileging any one item by exempting it from a generally applicable tax. They should instead focus on lowering taxes for all taxpayers.”